Bats

Little brown bat; close-up of nose with fungus, New York, Oct. 2008.
Photo courtesy Ryan von Linden/New York Department of Environmental Conservation

An emerging disease known as White Nose Syndrome has wiped out bats across the Northeast, and now it's spreading in the North Carolina mountains.

Mass bat die-offs could have huge implications for the state's ecology and economy.

Bat with white-nose fungus.
Photo courtesy Ryan von Linden/New York Department of Environmental Conservation

A deadly fungus known as white-nose syndrome has been decimating bat populations in the Eastern United States and is spreading quickly through western portions of North Carolina. It was discovered in upstate New York in 2006. The infection is marked by a white frosting of fungus around the bat's nose, ears, and wings.

Little Brown Bat with white-nose syndrome in Greeley Mine, VT, March 2009.
Marvin Moriarty/USFWS

White nose syndrome has arrived in North Carolina. The syndrome is a fungus that's been killing bats up and down the East Coast. In New York state, about 90 percent of some species of bat have died. Biologists have closed caves to spelunkers and hikers in an effort to control the spread.